Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Rhodri Morgan's legacy: The failure of a government department

While we hear news that the number of unemployed people in Wales has gone up by 24,000 - the largest rise of any part of the UK [There are now 130,000 jobless in Wales. The unemployment rate is 9.1%] and the only regions with a worse figure are the North-East of England and the West Midlands, the Welsh Assembly Government's business promotion arm is showing muscle fatigue of the worst kind.

International Business Wales (part of the Welsh Assembly Government) has been targeting the wrong companies in the wrong marketplace and must be overhauled, Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones said yesterday.

Two major reports yesterday dealt a blow to IBW’s reputation as a champion of Welsh business overseas.

A study by independent inward investment expert Glenn Massey highlighted areas where it was delivering poor value for money and warned:

  1. The IBW brand is not strong or well recognised.
  2. Clearly, the performance of IBW and its predecessor over the past 10 years has at best been mixed.
  3. Wales has spent more than £3m a year on overseas offices but out of the 12 UK regions came last in the rankings for safeguarding jobs.
  4. In 2008-09, the number of new jobs created by foreign direct investment was the lowest ever recorded for Wales.
The report also reveals that the member of staff stationed in IBW’s Munich office cannot speak German.

A major concern it highlights is that IBW has no responsibility to encourage the 500-plus foreign-owned companies in Wales to reinvest in the nation.

Conservative Shadow Minister for the Economy David Melding AM said:
The report into the effectiveness of IBW is disturbing and raises serious questions about whether the organisation is delivering value for money. The Assembly Government needs to review its programmes regularly and not only in response to a crisis as it did in this case over expenses. It is clear we have underperformed on inward investment compared to other parts of the UK. We were once the market leader.

How many of the Assembly Government’s programmes are underperforming badly?
That is the question ministers must now answer.


James D 14 October 2009 at 21:58  

Aside from whether IBW have actually done a good job or not, there is still the question of whether it is possible. For starters, we're experiencing the mother of all recessions, thanks to Gordon Brown and the FSA turning a blind eye to misbehaviour by foreign-owned banks. And there are serious structural problems for inward investment, not least Westminster policies to inflate the Pound's value to benefit London at the expense of Wales (and most of England, for that matter).

Without full control of economic policy in Cardiff, we are always going to get the worst deal, and our efforts to tinker around the edges are doomed to failure.

Anonymous 18 October 2009 at 02:56  

Have you actually read Glann Massey's report Miss Wagstaff? IBW are being blamed because Wales came last in the UK for the number of safeguarded jobs and for not encouraging reinvestment in Wales by foreign owned companies. That is not IBW's function. Glen Massey admits that - none too prominently - in his report. The department responsible for reinvestment and safeguarding jobs is Knowledge Bank for Business (K4B) - which ironically was proposed, designed and ran for the first year (on secondment from Price Waterhouse Coopers) by someone called Glenn Massey. If you want an independent review, don't hire someone with such an obvious axe to grind - unless of course Rhodri Morgan wanted a highly critical review, which might explain why the work never went out to tender.

Robert 22 October 2009 at 08:07  

Who cares who is to blame the welsh Assembly has a job to do. Wales needs jobs real jobs, it's not happening at all, get off your backsides and get on with it, how the hell can we run our own country if we are all on the bloody dole or working in tesco or asda.

sir hump 24 October 2009 at 12:58  

as someone in the know with ibw I can say that bith reports are spot on and if anything don't go far enough. The KPMG expenses one found everything that is possibly fraudulent but didn't look at anything that pushes the rules or bends them,and there is lots of that....examples available if anyones interetsed. KPMG didn't ask a lot of quesions, just looked at docs. And emeber that that 11% they found doesn't include ones WAGS own interbal picked up on.

As for the massey report, spot on, but I agree it shouldn't have been him doing it, he is biased due to his K$B department which is poor also. But knowing IBW and its staff its safe to say that few are of the calibre you'd expect and the rationale for what they do is based on guesses and traditions rather than actual evidence or reserach. It makes no sense and hasn't for ten years or more -and the same was true of the WDA. What is even more annoying to me is thta I know that senior managers and Ministers wee told all this some time ago but did not act. Heads must role.

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